Knight Automobile Group is a privately owned holding company with ownership of four different automotive manufacturers and marques all based out of Scotland. The Group manages its subsidiaries in a shared power manner, giving large amounts of independent control to its subsidiaries as they all operate in different parts of the automotive market. The company is the largest automotive corporation in Scotland, and its operations stretch into four different continents: North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia.
As of 2013, its operating subsidiaries include Whitemoore Motors, Keep Motors, Marketsquare Commercial Motors, and Carriagehouse Design. The CEO and President of Knight Automotive, John Clark, is also the owner of Knitwell and Templar Publishing.
Knight Automotive was founded on March 13th, 1919, under the marque Knight Motor Company, producing small, four seat luxury cars for members of the British government and nobility by American Joshua Hall. The company was headquartered at its primary manufacturing and assembly plant on the Port of London. Hall's operations in London slowly continued to grow in volume and profit as a larger portion of the population over time could afford an automobile. The level of production and sale peaked in 1926, with the manufacturing plant producing 57 automobiles in a single month. However, in 1929, the Great Slump resulted into the wide-scale decline in the amount that Hall could play his workers, resulting in a strike by nearly half of factory workers, and the temporary closure of the business for the months of November, December, and January. Knight Automotive was in a stable position, however, as there was a small amount of activity in the market to the desired consumers, and the absence of workers allowed for only a small amount to be lost towards factory maintenance every month the company was closed. Hall agreed to higher wages, but decided to downsize in return by firing around half of the workforce which was on strike. In order to successfully survive the Great Slump, the company's investors and Hall decided to merge with a competing supplier of automobiles in order to secure a higher profit margin in the economic downturn. Keep Motor Company, which had been competing with Knight Automotive since 1923 in the luxury automobile industry, headquartered in Kings Cross, met with a small amount of representative from Knight, and in late 1931, the two companies agreed to a merger. Knight Automotive would take 80% ownership of Keep Motor, while the Keep marque would be maintained as its singular manufacturing and sale component.
With a regrowing economy, Knight Automobile expanded the operations of Keep Motors into Cardiff and Glasgow, where they could tap into new markets by offering lower prices in their respective regions. In Glasgow, Keep Motors found a harsh competition in Whitemoore Motorcoaches, which was run by the Scottish-American Harvey Clarke. In 1936, the manufacturing plant at Glasgow went into strike for the demand of higher wages and higher safety regulations. For the months of June, July, August, September, and October the Glasgow plant was closed by the strike, resulting in the temporary takeover of the Scottish market by Whitemoore. It was believed that the company had planted workers in the factory to begin the strike, an act which was proven to be true in the strike's aftermath where one of the ringleaders confessed. The action was heavily looked down upon by the Scottish elite, and the influence of Whitemoore was extremely reduced in Scotland. After an incident of near bankruptcy, Knight Automobile bought-out all Whitemoore facilities and models, restructuring them as Whitemoore Motors. With the foundation of the German Volkswagen GmB by the Nazi Party, the idea of affordable cars marketed toward the general public. The reintroduction of Whitemoore vehicles as affordable and fast was a major success, resulting in the eventual expansion of operations into England by 1939.
With the outbreak of World War II, the company was commissioned by the government to build cars for officers within the British Armed Forces. To do so, Guardsmen Military Motors was established as a subsidiary of Knight Automotive to cater to the heavy duty and officer based needs of the British government. At the end of the War, Guardsmen Motors was transitioned into a commercial truck manufacturer, known now was Marketsquare Commercial Motors. The revitalization of the British economy after the War provided for the success of commercial vehicle manufacturing by the company. In 1963, Knight Automobile Group found itself in a situation of decentralization. The Group lacked any specific unifying qualities in both product and actual organization. In order to better structure the company as a singular body made up of its subsidiaries, Knight Automobile moved their primary headquarters to Edinburgh. The major manufacturing facilities were also transitioned to a large facility outside of Edinburgh known as the Dechmont Industrial Estate. To provide for common elements in the design, quality, and identity of Knight automobiles, the subsidiary Carriagehouse Design was establish that specific purpose. By 1970, Knight Automobile Group had become of Scotland's most notable companies, expanding their operations into continental Europe by establishing a manufacturing plant in Frankfurt Am Maim and a North American facility in Denver.
The intensification of the Scottish independence movement after Bloody Sunday also helped spread the company's hold over the Scottish market by catering to a population which wished to purchase from non-English brands. With the declaration of Scottish independence in 1973 and the resultant civil war, Knight Automobile became a key instrument in securing Scottish commercial stability. The Treaty of Carlisle in 1975 ended the war, and Scottish independence meant the ability of the company to change its persona in the English, Welsh, and Irish markets. The idea of a tough and strong engine became popular in more rural parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the marketing scheme also played successfully in more rural areas in Canada and the United States. A manufacturing facility was established in Adelaide for the Australian market in 1976, where the same marketing tactics worked in the harsh environments of inland Australia. The establishment of a facility in Cape Town in 1980 also provided for the success of the company in more desert locations in South Africa and surrounding countries. While still in full competition with many companies across the Western world, Knight Automobile had become extremely successful, and was one of Scotland's most profitable corporations in 1990.
The Global Recession of 2007 resulted in a decrease of worldwide sales, and the operations of the company were slightly reduced to manage a stable budget in the economic crisis. Though it was only affected to a very small degree, Knight Automobile took very large precautions during the situation to insure their financial stability and upkeep of a suitable profit margin.